[Editor: This book is recommended for ages 10 and up]
Leap, by Jane Breskin Zalben, is about two Long Island teens, Krista and Daniel, who were best friends since kindergarten. They first became friends when Daniel saw Krista crying, and with a used tissue, wiped her tears away.
They were inseparable, until fifth grade, when people began to tease them about the “friendship”. And just like that they never spoke again. Daniel became best friends with Bobby Kaufman, who Krista liked, and Mr.Kaufman, Daniel’s dentist. Daniel’s tiny tooth on the roof of his mouth needed to be surgically removed in a simple procedure. Mr.Kaufman said Daniel would be up in no time. But Daniel had a bad allergic reaction while he was under anesthesia. Daniel’s lungs began to fill up with mucus, and blood started spurting from where they pulled out the tooth.
After Daniel’s incident, he needed a wheelchair, and extensive physical therapy with Krista’s dad. Daniel hoped to see Krista, because even though they weren’t friends anymore, Daniel still missed her. Eventually Daniel ended up going back to school.
On his first day back Krista treated him kindly, and Bobby was pretty friendly too, however everyone else acted awkwardly when around him. Daniel’s day didn’t get any better. He figured out his mom wanted some “time off” to visit her sister. Daniel felt furious and abandoned during this time of difficulty. Krista had two best friends, Gina (the jock) and Sandy ( the kind one). Since the physical therapy appointments with Krista's dad were held in their basement for Daniel, Krista would sometimes come down to see how things were progressing.
Their frozen friendship quickly began to thaw…. Daniel had always been a great swimmer, but after his accident, he could barely swim. But his therapist told him that swimming would help his body heal quicker. The story traces the amazing recovery Daniel makes with Krista's help, and how the two rediscover their friendship and a new beginning.
Even though I found this book entertaining, it contains parts which disliked. For example, when Lanie (Bobby's girlfriend) got a tattoo, it wasn’t important, but the scene took up about a chapter. I began to lose interest as my brain wandered wondering why such a simple act took up so much space.
Although the story took place over a school year, I finished it in one day; I feel like it should’ve had more details about their daily lives. But there were many aspects in the book which pleased me. Krista’s personality is particularly unique. I put myself in Krista’s place, and I realized I wouldn’t have done or said what she did. I liked how she was rather outgoing and would say thing that I would be shy to say. On the other hand I couldn’t relate to her harsh anger with Daniel. She felt more upset than I would’ve been in that type of situation. Lastly I enjoyed how the book alternated from Krista’s point-of-view to Daniel’s perspective.
In light of the fact that the author Zalben has two teenage sons and lives on Long Island (where the story takes place), it isn’t surprising that she understands and portrayed Daniel’s point of view so well. Because this book is more of a romance novel, I would recommend it to those who prefer romance novels and deep friendships between girls and boys. This novel goes beyond silly superficial girly-girl drama; it shows real friendship with depth and meaning.